Coach Trevor Bayliss admits England’s concession of the highest Test total ever scored against them may have a bearing on whether Alastair Cook decides to stay on as captain.
The England coach acknowledged there was “not a lot” he could say to help the players as India batsman Karun Nair turned his maiden Test century into an unbeaten 303, in only his third innings, and drove the hosts to their own record score of 759 for seven declared.
It will fall on Cook, and opening partner Keaton Jennings, to lead England’s attempt from 270 runs in arrears to try to save the match by batting out the final day of a series they have already lost 3-0.
After they had reached 12 without loss on the penultimate evening of this fifth Test, Bayliss agreed England’s latest chastening experience could yet influence Cook’s deliberations about whether to extend his record 59 matches in charge into next summer and the Ashes winter to follow.
Bayliss will not be in attendance to witness the rearguard in Chennai because he was set to fly home to Australia lastnight in time for a pre-Christ mas hernia operation – and his 54th birthday tomorrow.
Asked if days like the fourth at the MA Chidambaram Stadium could help make up Cook’s mind, he said: “Possibly. That’s a decision only he will know the answer to.”
Bayliss did not address the topic with his captain, after Nair had delivered another huge blow to the tourists’ morale and standing in this tough series, and he does not intend to either until Cook has spoken in his end-of-campaign debrief with England and Wales Cricket Board director Andrew Strauss.
“He’s done it for so long, whether I say yes or no, it won’t change his mind whether he keeps going or stops,” said Bayliss.
“If he keeps going, fantastic; if he stops, that’s up to him, and I’ve got no problems with that either.
“I won’t actually sit down to have a chat with him. We’ve got six or seven months till our next Test match, so there’s plenty of time for him to have a think about it.” On the field, Cook’s side had no answer to Nair as he, Ravi Ashwin (67) and Ravindra Jadeja (51) piled on England’s misery in stands of 181 and 138 and only three wickets fell for 368 runs in 82.4 overs.
“We got totally outplayed today, for sure... we just weren’t in the game,” added Bayliss. “But the one thing, throughout the five Tests here in India and two in Bangladesh, is that I can say the guys haven’t stopped trying.
“On this tour, we’ve been outclassed - you put your hands up and say ‘Well played, India’. “They’ve batted better than us and bowled better than us.”
Nair had occasional luck on his side, most importantly when Cook dropped him at slip on only 34 on the third afternoon.
He went on to became only the second India batsman after Virender Sehwag to make a triple century.
The 25-year-old, whose two previous scores were four and 13, said: ‘’They say ‘make hay when the sun shines’.
“We are 3-0 up, so I think they are already out of the game... I’m just happy I got in and made the most of it.”